Archive for the ‘aol’ Tag

The Return of Hyperlocal

How do you reach a 1 mile radius of customers?  Nothing has bedeviled marketers and small business owners more than this.   You could plaster flyers on telephone poles, put up real estate style signs on the corner or accost the public with handbills.  I’m here to tell you that these strategies are time consuming, require a lot of energy and rarely work.  It’s sort of like screaming out of car windows in traffic to find your soulmate.

In a piece from Businessweek, pundits savaged the business prospects of AOL’s Patch – a potential source of customer aggregation for small business marketers. I tend to agree that the strategy is wrong – you can’t templatize local news and community creation.  Having said that, I believe the ideal models combine technology and offline methods to supercharge word of mouth creation.  You need the impact of a street team combined with the scale of mobile platforms.

Over the coming months, we are going to delve into case studies, theories and experiments around what works and what doesn’t.  Given that I work with small businesses including my own, Fitwell Training Solutions, I’ll share real-life cases to add practicum to the theory.  I hope you’re looking forward to diving into the future of our country – the businesses that surround you within a 1 mile radius.

Is Content on the Web Missing A Soul? – 5 Ways to Get It Back

Are Content Factories Taking The Soul Out of Content?The rise of content factories like Associated Content and now AOL are scaring the crap out of those trying to eke out a living through the written word.  Having been born in 20 BG (Before Google) ,  I sympathize with the angst of journalists forced to write against a paint-by-the-numbers set of keywords to drive SEO.  This feels a bit like selling out to get distribution but really is the equivalent of covering car chases, fires and infidelity to sell papers and drive ratings.  Google has given us a new window into what sells based on keyword popularity so let’s use it.  Rather than thumb our noses at outfits that leverage Google insight to create content, content creators should one up content factories with engaging content directed at a target audience.  Here are five ways  for you to participate in the quest to reclaim content soul on the web.

1.  Write about what you love – Content drones and robots cannot write engaging content.  If you write dry as toast content, no one will want to read it no matter how many great keywords and tags you use to get people there.  This is critical for small business owners.  Your differentiation is you and the more “you” that comes across the better unless of course you’re a jerk.

2. Write often – Kurt no you didn’t just say that with months between blog entries.  Ok so this a bit of a case of do what I say not what I do but it’s true.  The more you write , the more you will emerge in your writings and guess what?  Google likes content depth so you will have an opportunity to develop a content library that will have value to you, your readers and Google.

3.  Make your content multimedia rich – Get a still camera, get a Flip HD video camera and an iPhone.  Visit Flickr for some new images.  Do something new and innovative.  The same text-heavy dead sea scroll length content won’t get it done.  Make your prose come alive.

4.  Study the marketplace and uncover emerging trends before anyone else – Stay ahead of the pack by anticipating what is going to be hot before the embers catch fire.  This will enable you to create authority and expertise in the marketplace through first mover advantage.   When I research trends, I use as many sources as possible.  There is an exhaustive list of tools to use on trendwatching.com that I won’t reproduce in full so here are the top  sources I think are the most valuable:

  • Papers, websites, mags, blogs, books, news, newsletters
  • Alerts, Search Query Volume (Google)
  • Seminars, fairs, trade shows
  • Customers, clients, colleagues, friends, family
  • Competitors, Start ups

If you spot new trends reliably, you will become indispensable to your audience and Google will reward you as well through improved ranking as influential sites begin to link to you.

5.  Study sites and blogs with content soul – My favorite web personality/blogger/content creator example to point to is Gary Vaynerchuk.  He is sometimes a bit over the top but his content has soul and exudes passion.  Take a lesson from Gary – pick you niche and blow it out.  Gary provides great content and is a master of promoting content using social media.  Study his sites winelibrary.tv and garyvaynerchuk.com and apply them to your business.